Thoughts on Minimal Living

Minimal Living

In the past couple of years, we have been more conscious of getting rid of the excess stuff in our lives. We’ve gotten rid of a lot and have changed our consumption habits quite a bit in this time.

Downsizing to a smaller, older home two years ago has served as motivation towards letting more things go because we don’t have a lot of storage space. Our 1,300 square foot home has a small kitchen and 1970s sized closets – there really isn’t much space for a lot of excess.

Of course the lack of space is not the sole motivation, our lifestyle is! We’re finding we both feel less stressed and more content in our home as stuff leaves. It’s much easier to maintain and keep clean when there’s less, which means more time to spend doing things we enjoy! Even our young boys benefit from less, it seems the less toys they have, the more they actually play with their toys instead of just dragging everything out.

We’ve found it interesting how our minimizing seems to make people somewhat uncomfortable. We have comments thrown towards us regarding our desire to have less either by getting rid of the things we have or not acquiring many new items. Many times these comments are said with a negative tone.

I can’t help but think why does it bother others so much because we are choosing to live a somewhat countercultural life that’s not obsessed with acquiring more and more?

Do people think we’re just crazy because it is so abnormal to live desiring less?

Do they think we’re depriving our child since we don’t want them to have a ton of possessions?

Does it just bother them because they are drowning in their own clutter and really want to live without the desire for more?

Regardless of what others think, we’re confident that we’re on the right path and our life is heading in the direction that we want it to. Less really is more. When you have less stuff, you have more time to spend with your family, more money to give to ministries and quite honestly, life just seems more fulfilling!

Are you attempting to rid your life of the excess stuff? Do you find others are bothered by your desire to live a life free of excess? 


responses to “Thoughts on Minimal Living” 29

  1. Amen!
    Even though we are definitely NOT minimalists, we are striving to get rid of alot of our clutter. We have recognized that it really doesnt do anything for us but give us something else on the to-do list and is always in our way. Though we are by no means minimalists when it comes to our possessions, we definitely are with our finances. We were talking this weekend with my mom (who was kind of knocking how we live our lives financially) and she just doesnt understand why we are so frugal. It is pretty much for the same reasons you listed above. Then again, they earn nearly 3 times we do and have 1/3 what we have saved for an "emergency." Her comment: "We choose to LIVE our life and have fun now." The problem is: so do we. But our lifestyle doesnt require spending a lot of money to have fun. On our way home from visiting my mom, hubby and I were actually talking about how our home (1890 sq ft) is way too big for us. We are going to downsize the home we already have by converting a room by the garage into something that hubby needs (a workshop), adding a wall in another room, and adding a bathroom. All relatively inexpensive projects where we can keep the home we have worked so hard at making our own for the past 7 years, but making it more compact so we use ALL the space we have available to us. It will go from 1890 sq ft to about 1400 sq ft after the renovations. (End soapbox)

    1. I love that you're home improvements are actually helping you downsize. That's rare when most people just want more space so they can have more stuff! Like you, our lifestyle also doesn't require spending a lot of money to have fun. And, quite honestly, our minimal mindset really helps stretch the single income.

  2. We are not minimalists either (though my family thinks I get rid of too much!). Your post reminded me of Romans 12:2 – I find it so funny how many people are constantly being negative towards others because they are living different then others around them. I am always hearing negative comments about mothers of ‘only two’ children (though that is the norm around the country it is not were we live) – they are not good enough, it is boring or they feel sorry for our children for not having more kids to play with. I think Romans can apply to all of us! Oh, and how I am already DREADING christmas! She is still young enough not to know when I get rid of something but over the next year it is going to get really hard to explain why we are not keeping Grandpa’s toy, Aunt’s dress, ect… How do you handle that? My family will not listen when I ask them to limit gifts – they just say “I will give what I want to give to MY granddaughter” and after praying I feel we should teach our children to be gracious receivers but where does it end?

    1. Yes, people are negative based on differences. It is sad. While minimal living is right for our family and I share the benefits of living with less, I don't go around preaching it and making people feel bad if they have excess stuff. Our lifestyle works for us, but our lifestyle may make another family miserable! And, birthdays and Christmas definitely raise my stress level a bit. I try to do a good clean out in preparation for those celebrations. Several of our family members are starting to understand our lifestyle a little more and are asking for gift suggestions, looking on the boys amazon wish lists and just giving them less in general (our boys are thrilled with 1 or 2 new books, they don't need 8 new ones!)

    2. I know your comment was from a while back but wanted to reply to your problem with relatives. I had a big problem with grandparents (especially my mom) going against my wishes. I finally put my foot down and said that it you buy something that I don't want them to have then it will be returned to the store or donated. When they found out I was serious they started respecting my wishes. Now my kids are older so I was able to have conversations with them about limiting how much stuff we have. This probably wouldn't work with small kids as they wouldn't understand. I think the real problem is not so much understanding our lifestyles but not respecting our wishes as parents and believe me that becomes a much bigger issue as kids grow up. Best to nip it in the bud early.

    3. Encourage your children to be charitable and donate to a worthy cause, or needy family. That is how I was raised and how I raised my children. My daughter-in-law is of a large family of cousins and they all recycle their children clothes and shoes through the family to help raise each others children.

  3. I've been consistently working to get rid of things that don't inform our life. I want so much to be at a point of readiness: If God wanted us to pick up and go, could we be immediately obedient? This isn't just from a "stuff to pack" standpoint, but physical fitness and spiritual listening as well. But the biggest issue with me is a heart one. Am I going to value God more than I value this thing? So far, the response has been pretty positive, but I've still had to do some explaining. The best quick answer I can give is, "we just have no room in this 2-bedroom apartment for x thing!" And it's true. My mom has our bedroom suit in her house and my brother has our dining table and chairs in his apartment, all because we haven't the space for either.

    1. I also try to live with a similar view. Our desire, if God asked us to walk away from it all, we would do it without batting an eye. We're trying to hold loosely to the things of this world. I love your mindset too. And, for those who don't understand our desire to really live with less stuff, we definitely use our house to explain why we live with less. While 1,300 square feet is far from tiny, it is small for a family of 4 and people seem to understand that a little more. The reality is, if we kept just 25% more stuff, our home would be stuffed to the gills!

  4. Yes! Yes, yes! I think this goes along with my cleaning problem. I have nearly 15 loads of laundry backed up currently and it occurred to me, I need to just get rid of about 14 loads of that!

  5. My husband and I have been changing to minimal living since the birth of our first son 2 years ago and have been so blessed by how much less time we're spending cleaning and decluttering these days! But what do you, especially at Christmas time, about grandparents who buy their grandchildren presents that they neither need nor do we as their parents want them to have! I'm afraid of hurting their feelings by asking them not to buy our children gifts this year because I know they love to give…HELP!

    1. Living with less definitely does make home management easier, it's wonderful for parents of little ones! Birthdays and Christmas are tough, not everyone who gives our children gifts understand the reasoning behind our lifestyle. Our parents definitely have the greatest understanding since we've more thoroughly explained our desires to them over other family. We have an amazon wish list for each child that we keep updated throughout the year of things they need, toys we know they'd love and books we want. We also give gift ideas when we're asked such as 'we love books', 'the boys need short sleeve shirts', and 'we love art supplies.' When given these prompts most family members will gift us with the things on that list that they know we will use. We try to have a mindset of thankfulness throughout holidays and birthdays, reflecting on the fact that these people love our children so much that they want to give them gifts and ultimately we're not in control of what they choose to give. However, we also don't feel obligated to keep the item. If it's not something we need or will use, we're not afraid to return the item. We'll let the boys play with their new toys but if it's a toy that's being ignored a few months later, there is no guilt when we decide to donate. Hope this helps a little!

  6. I am trying slowly to get rid of more and more, but I am no where near where you seem to be as far as the amount of "stuff". I keep thinking that if we had less stuff I would have less to clean. What I should do is work on training my 4 kids to help out more and take care of their things. My parents just do not get my minimalist desires and mail my kids dollar store trinkets even after I have asked them many times to stop. Anyways I just wanted to say that I love your blog and am always excited to see what you post. I rarely ever comment though. You are one of the few "minimalists" that I can relate to. We live on an acre and have chickens, too! Oh and I would love to see some of the recipes you have been using lately with real food.

    1. Less stuff definitely makes cleaning and keeping the house tidy much easier. But, don't let where our family is with possessions make you feel like you have too much. Find the amount of stuff that works for your home and your family! And, you have twice the children that I have so that means you have twice the kid stuff. It is hard when family doesn't get your desire to live with less. In the case of the dollar store gifts, appreciate the thought but view them like flowers – toss them out when they've exhausted their usefulness (and with dollar toys, it's usually only day or two!) And recipes – we're keeping things really simple as we're changing our eating habits – a meat and vegetables mainly for dinner, lots of eggs for breakfast and leftovers/fruits/nuts/veggies for lunch. I may start sharing a little more about food and sharing some recipes since that area has definitely been neglected on the blog lately!

  7. I would love to be a minimalist. All that stuff that we keep for the "what ifs". I have still a long way to go.
    I can relate to all the toys (especially the girly stuff)
    Would you mind to give a home tour?
    It always gives me that extra boost to get rid of stuff and see the beauty of less is more :))

    1. Don't feel bad, the 'what if's' are a bit of a struggle for me too! Simplifying is definitely a process, we've been simplifying and minimizing over the entire course of our 7 year marriage. I actually have a home tour written down on my blog post ideas list – guess I should make that a priority! 🙂

  8. I'm not a minimalist, but am definitely trying to live a clutter-free life. I have had negative remarks from friends. I think it tends to be people who get very emotionally attached to objects. I have a friend with three adult children and she has kept every single item of clothing, toy and schoolbook they owned. As you can imagine her house is overflowing to the point where she is struggling. But, for her getting rid of something is like you are rejecting that person. She was horrified when I donated at least 80% of my mother's belongings to charity after she died.

    I also think some people are scared you will judge them. I often find people will apologise for their homes when I visit them. I would never say anything to them unless I felt they were being harmed by their clutter. Some people enjoy having stuff around them and some people enjoy collecting things and that is fine.

    1. You're right on. Some people enjoy living with less and some people actually like having a lot of stuff, neither is right or wrong, it comes down to preference.

  9. We love minimal! And what's so funny is I think our daughter is at heart. She will "clean-up" for me, which means she swipes every item from every surface (quickly grab cups of water out of the way!) and piles it all, be it laundry, toys, shoes, plates, cups (!), etc in the center of the room and declares that the room is all clean. Its really enlightening. She just functions better in an empty room!

    1. Our boys definitely seem to function better with less. Their play seems much richer when they're not surrounded by toys. There is a lot to learn from these little ones of ours!

  10. I am always trying to simplify and minimize where I can! I find that most people don't understand my desire to do such a thing in this culture of more, more, more! Certain family members who really don't understand our motivation to declutter, I feel, judge us and are so negative about our wanting less. They take offense when we turn down things that we find unnecessary in our lives!

    As always, you inspire me to keep at my goal of simple because I know, for our family, it is a key factor in our happiness!

  11. Though we are not minimalists, our family of five has been downsizing possessions since moving into our 980 square foot home in 2009. I've found we use things more until they fall apart just so we don't have to get more and we think twice about buying things just because they're on sale. We did away with kitchen disposables to free up space and we get rid of clothes if we haven't worn them for an entire season. It was difficult at first, but now it's the way we live.

  12. I think that sometimes people are uncomfortable because you are doing something that they feel incapable of doing themselves. We all have this bit of protectiveness inside us, I think. It's also sometimes so hard to imagine a way of life that is drastically different from our own. I am really trying to embrace a minimalist mentality, but I had a far way to go. While I am not a spender, I do tend to get overly attached to things and have a hard time getting rid of stuff. I have boxes of electronic cords, that as far as I know, do not go to anything that we currently own, and yet, I'm fearful to get rid of them. This is the challenge I currently face and I look forward to learning from you!

  13. but if you have a spouse from another country their definition of minimal is different from yours. Growing up my husband just got one gift per occasion (birthday/ Christmas) and he was grateful. So we've always tried not to give our kids too much. We used to do 3-4 toys/ Christmas (this year just one each– and they enjoyed it!) and 2 for birthdays (the past year just 1 gift– a bike/ child). even so they have more than my husband ever did. I saved their baby toys and clothes for the youngest but will give them away eventually when he's done with them (or if my husband wants another child ever, who knows). My husband also does not like to waste anything, especially food as he saw many people doing without basics. So for other cultures only buying what you need is normal and not anything unusual at all.

  14. I think whenever we do anything considered "different" others see it as a judgement. I'm not sure why, but I've seen it again and again in our odd life. Whether it's the no tv thing, the homebirths, homeschooling, leaving life as we knew it and moving to the middle of nowhere, it's been judged. With the exception of the living in the middle of nowhere, it's all been great and even with that one we've learned so much.
    Who knows?

  15. My partner and I, both in our early 50s, have recently begun to seriously minimalise our possessions (in a couple of years we plan to buy a 4WD and caravan and tour around the country – Australia – with no end date in mind). We are child-free but both our mothers are quite horrified at the stuff we're donating, selling and giving away. I've explained to my mother that it's stuff we don't use or need – and who would we be keeping it for? We have no-one to pass it on to so it's just dragging us down. We're looking forward to our lighter, simpler future.

  16. Thank you for another fantastic blog. Where else could I get this kind of information written in such an incite full way? I have a project that I am just now working on, and i am sure this will help me a lot..

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